OBJECTIVE. Clinical reasoning studies have acknowledged tacit aspects of practice, and recent research suggests that clinical reasoning contains intuition informed by tacit knowledge. Intuition also appears to be influenced by awareness and understanding of emotions. This study investigated the relationship between intuition and emotional intelligence among occupational therapists in mental health practice.
METHOD. We mailed a survey containing measures of cognitive style and of use of emotional competencies at work and demographic questions to 400 members of the national occupational therapy association; 134 occupational therapists responded.
RESULTS. A moderate relationship was found between intuitive cognitive style and emotional intelligence. Experienced therapists scored higher on the use of emotional competencies at work and reported a preference for an intuitive cognitive style to a greater extent than novices.
CONCLUSION. This study represents the first attempt to explore occupational therapists’ preferred cognitive style and self-reported emotional intelligence. Findings suggest that exploring emotions through reflective practice could enhance intuitive aspects of clinical reasoning.